What do journal editors want?

Categories: Academic Writing Month, Focus Series, Publishing, Writing and Editing

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MethodSpace button-acwrimoIt is Academic Writing Month at SAGE MethodSpace, and for 2018 we are looking at ways researchers develop a holistic publication strategy. Peer-reviewed articles in scholarly journals are part of many writers’ academic career requirements. 

What do editors want to see in new submissions? Dr. Jennifer Leigh offers some insights in thispost. She speaks from experience since she is the Senior Editor, Annual Review of Social Partnerships, Associate Editor, Business Ethics: A European Review, and the Associate Editor, Journal of Management Education.

Janet SalmonsJS What do you wish new writers knew before they submitted an article?


Jennifer Leigh

JL I wish that new writers made it a priority to review for a journal before submitting articles to an outlet. By providing peer-review new writers get insight into how editorial policy and priorities are determined in action. Seeing the Associate Editor’s and Editor’s decision letters, the author’s response letter, and revisions offer insight into the “art” side of publication. Additionally, being part of the review process also affords opportunities to see how other reviewers coach authors and widens the awareness new writers have about potential ways to structure an introduction, consider a literature review, provide methods transparency, and unpack the implications for research or practice based on the main audience of a journal. 
Sometimes new writers are hesitant to review due to the time required and lack of experience and I suggest three actions to overcome these concerns:
1) Be assured–the learning gained from reviewing is worth the time. When you review you stay up to date with the literature, stay fresh on methods, and learn to think about writing from the author and reviewer standpoints. 
2) Attend Editor panels at conferences or sign up for webinars to learn about different journals’ standards and debates in the field.
3) Email Associate Editors or Editors and ask if you can review as an “reviewer in training”.

4) Buy or borrow the book Winning Reviews: A Guide for Evaluating Scholarly Writing (2006 Edition) edited by Y. Baruch , S. Sullivan, & H. Schepmyer. This book provides a variety of essays on how to conduct reviews, common challenges in reviewing, and providing different types of reviews.

Janet SalmonsJS What is the most important factor for successful publication of an article?


Jennifer Leigh

JL Attention to the priorities set by the Associate Editor or Editor is one of the most important factors for successful publication. In any given review there may be a divergence between reviewers on minor to major issues and new writers need to pay attention to the Editors’ ranking of issues that need to be resolved. Next thoughtful and detailed responses to these priorities need to be documented in the author’s response letter. Editors need to see author’s willingness to take feedback and significant progress in between revisions in order to continue on the path towards publication. The response letter is the road map to the process and helps both the Editors and Reviewers understand succinctly what has changed so further feedback can be offered through continuing in the review process or a decision can be made.

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